As House Speaker John A. Boehner battled to quell unrest among conservatives before a major vote, one of his most prominent members, presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, openly revolted.
Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican running for president with “tea party” support, bucked her party leader in a speech at the National Press Club, only miles from Capitol Hill.
“I refuse to be a party to deceiving the American people yet again,” she declared, promising to oppose Boehner’s plan to raise the nation’s $14.3-trillion debt ceiling despite the threat of a federal default next week.
Bachmann said the debt-saddled country could no longer afford to authorize more borrowing. She dismissed predictions of financial calamity from the Treasury Department, economists and President Obama as hyperbole. “Scare tactics,” she said.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and, like Bachmann, a tea party favorite, waded into the debt fight as well. In a Facebook post, Palin reprinted a letter she sent to newly elected Republicans last fall emphasizing the need to “rein in out-of-control government spending” and “check the growth of spending on our entitlement programs.” She asked House Republicans to reread it and remember the “little people” who believed in them.
In an ominous postscript, she warned: “Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.”
By early evening, Boehner canceled a scheduled floor vote, an acknowledgment that he did not have sufficient support within the GOP ranks.
“As we debate the debt ceiling, the players seem to have lost all sense of proportion,” Bachmann said.
That seemed to be a subtle swipe at Boehner, whose plan she brushed aside even as she offered muted praise of his “faithful effort” in talks with Obama. Asked whether Boehner should be ousted if the debt ceiling were raised, she sidestepped.
“I am running for president of the United States,” she said, after a pause. “I am not running for speaker of the House.”